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The modern search for Valhalla

Jan 1, 2003

Perhaps, because all life originated in the world's oceans, mankind may have some deeply embedded psychic need to return to the sea in death. A thousand years ago the Vikings were making final fiery voyages to Valhalla to reside with the gods. But, today, other factors may influence a person's desire, or need, to return to sea at death.

In Japan, where the costs of burial plots keeps climbing faster than the price of boat fuel, Japanese citizens may opt to take advantage of a new service being offered by the Nippon Yusen Kaishe shipping company. For a nominal fee, NYK will undertake the task of giving your ashes (or those of a loved one) a dignified dunking outside Japan's territorial limit. As proof of the deed, surviving family members will receive an official document, authenticated with the signature of the master.

At Hobart, Tasmania, Dr. Philip Nitschke, an outspoken euthanasia proponent, has suggested a possible nautical solution for those who would like to terminate their voyage of life. Nitschke thinks a cruising "clinic" offering an assisted death, located somewhere beyond Australia's 200-mile limit, could offer clients a perfectly lawful way to achieve a peaceful death at sea. Perhaps NYK and Nitschke should consider forging some kind of partnership as a floating crematorium, with the resulting flotilla sailing round the world offering a full service cruise of death.


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